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John Morison

Colleagues will be sorry to learn of the death, on 5 January 2021, of John Morison, former Lecturer in the Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies and Senior Lecturer in the School of History.

Educated in Scotland at Glenalmond College, John read History at Oriel College, Oxford, and learnt Russian while on national service in the Royal Navy. He came to Leeds in 1965, specializing in the history of late imperial Russia and researching various aspects of modern Czechoslovak history. His article on ‘Katkov and Panslavism’, published in the Slavonic and East European Review in 1968, offered an early instance of his elegant style and empirical methods. When Soviet archives offered increased access to Western scholars in the mid-1980s, a particular interest in the history of education led him to write what remains the most carefully documented study of the Russian Orthodox seminaries in the revolution of 1905.

Throughout his time in Leeds, John did much to promote the University’s groundbreaking undergraduate exchange with the University of Brno, caring for Brno students in Leeds and making pastoral visits to Leeds students in Brno. John was an active supporter of scholarly relations with Russia and Eastern Europe, facilitating student exchange visits through the inter-university Russian Language Undergraduate Study Committee (RLUSC). From 1990 to 1995, he was President of the International Committee for Soviet and East European Studies (ICSEES, now the International Council for Central and East European Studies). John played a leading role in bringing the IV ICSEES World Congress to Harrogate in July 1990 and organizing the V World Congress in Warsaw in August 1995.

John had a lifelong love of classical music, attending performances in many countries. During his retirement in Bournemouth, he was an enthusiastic supporter of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. He will be greatly missed by colleagues, by the research students he inspired, and by many cohorts of former undergraduates whom he helped selflessly and tirelessly. Having held office as Chairman of the School of History between 1997 and 2000, John retired in 2002 after thirty-seven years’ service.